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  1. My friend Lucy is not only a very pleasant pilot, she is an entomologist and yesterday she invited me to go and look for some micro waterbear... "Where to look for the micro waterbears ?" I said - "... in the jungle of the Solomon Islands !" she answered ... First to me it was quite mysterious...but really attractive ! So we start from Bundaberg by an early morning departure going North with ANSETT firts to Mackay (283NM 313°) and next to Cairns (322NM 316°) from where we guessed to got a airplane to Solomon Islands... At Cairns, we have a regular line...but it is a quite old Russian bird......It was not the only surprise of this step...We notice behind us that there are a 3 kangoorous and 1 nandu in cargo boxes (we can see some heads though some breating holes)... Shortly after take off, the pilot has to find quickly a landing place as one kangoroo succeds to go off its box and is jumping in the plane... [this happens in the true life ! I experimented that 25 years ago flying back from Tasmanania to Philip Islands with a twin propeller plane...the sounds only from boxes but not the kangoo escape !] The pilot landed in a small private airfield to arrange its trouble with the kangoo ... Well as there are non other planes the next days to Solomon, that means we have to manage to go step by step through Queensland &York Peninsula up to Papua New Guinea and to try to got a plane at Port Moresby to Solomon... Fortunately we find 2 nice warbirds to rent... a wonderful P-47 for Lucy ... and a nice Spitire for me :-) That will be not to slow !! So we continue to the North, making few stops for refuelling and changing planes according renting availability...upto Kubin airport where we finally find a regular plane to Papua New Guinea... During the long flight through the PNG Sea and along the coast, we discuss about the PNG, the dangereous life of explorators in such place :-D...and Lucy provides me some first information about the waterbear also called "tartigrades" These tiny creatures are about 1mm long, living usually in marine, freshwater and humid terrestial environments... We can find some waterbear on most of the roof moss ... and in the harshest regions of Earth where they can survive ! They have been discovered 18,200ft up a mountain in the Himalayas, in Japanese hot springs, at the bottom of the ocean and in Antarctica...and we should find some certainly on the top of remote hills of tropical Solomon islands :-) (not all the pictures are fully suitable :-) ) Tardigrades have have eight legs and podgy face with folds of flesh. There are 900 known species... Most feed by sucking the juices from moss, lichens and algae. Others are carnivores with intimading claws. Their mouth is also a serious weapon with dagger-like teeth that can spear prey - eventually other tardigrades... Tardigrades were discovered in 1773 by a German pastor and observed 3 years later by the Italian clergyman and scientist Spallanzani who added water to sediment from a rain gutter, and looked under a microscope to find hundreds of little bear-shaped creatures swimming around. He named them "il Tardigrado", meaning "slow-stepper", because they moved so slowly. Fossils of tardigrades have been dated to the Cambrian period over 500 million years ago After all these information of the micro bear life, we are sleeping about 1 or 2 hours ... Finally we arrive at Port Moresby. As we have to wait 1 full day to get one regular plane to Solomon Islands, we manage to go to Fane close to Kokoda trail...to look for interesting fauna & maybe some first tartigrades. Of course we will have to take care about maybe some dangerous ones... The next day very early, back to Port Moresby, we are in the plane to Munda Airport on New Georgia, our target place of the Salomon Islands (via Kiriuna 237NM 82° via Kiriuna and next 367NM at 80°) During the long flight over the sea, Lucy explained me some other particularities of the tartigrades In fact they have the ability to dessicate completly and therefore to be resistant against extreme conditions of temperatures, acid ambiance as well as outer space : they can withstand huge amounts of radiation, being heated to 150 °C, and being frozen almost to absolute zero. This has been tested in 2007 by a satellite experience : thousands of tardigrades were attached out of the satellite and blasted into space. After the satellite had returned to Earth, scientists found that many of them had survived. Some of the females had even laid eggs in space, and the newly-hatched young were healthy. Dried tardigrades have been brought back to life after years of dessification ! When a tardigrade dries out it retracts its head and its eight legs. It then enters a deep state of suspended animation that closely resembles death. Shedding almost all the water in its body, the tardigrade curls up into a dry husk. Its metabolism slows to 0.01% of the normal rate. It can stay in this state for decades, only reanimating when it comes into contact with water. They can survive desiccation by making a lot of a particular sugar which forms a glass-like state inside their cells that stabilises key components, such as proteins and cells membranes, which would otherwise be destroyed. They make also a lot of antioxidants avoiding DNA of their cell to be damaged... During the flight, we watch a old movie about a terrible gorilla from a Pacific Island and fighting at the end agains airplane on the top of NY skybuilding... Certainly no one knows this film which is very unlikely... After refueling at Munda, we fly 27 NM 291° to NASATUPE Airfield... Why this remote airfield ? To meet Peter, a collegue of Lucy expert in tartigrades ! And it is the place where to got a Stinson, perfect plane for a cool & slow for the end ot our adventure ... (at the airport, we were happy to meet Maatts preparing its famous dance...) Peter learns us that his grandfather survived just around here from a unfortunate meeting with a Japonese Destroyer in August 1943. He was on USS PT-109 Torpedo Boat leaded by Lt Kennedy when the boat was rammed by the Japanese craft. PT-109 sank, and the survivors had to swim to nearby Plum Pudding Island 3.5 miles away. Kennedy and his men survived for six days on coconuts before they were found by two local men who sent a message by coconut husk to an Australian military unit in the area that arranged a rescue. With Peter, we decide to go to a remote island to look for interesting things to discover...that our final destination Not so easy to find where Peter went to land with its Cessna... OK Lucy finds the airfield... Fine Peter is waiting for us Thanks to its great knowledge of the place, we discover a lot of amazing new species... But Peter seems worried...He tells us that the place is not very safe... By the way we have to quit and to come back...We say goodbye to Peter and we go to our Stinson, ready to take off... "Maybe some dangereous creature." he told ?? HARGGGH ... A huge ...... ...fortunately Peter was not alone...he was with its frtiend "super mario monkey" ...and some native people come to help us... Houra we are stronger than the terrific monster... But the planes are destroyed...We had to wait for any possible plane around ? But we are lucky a Douglas was travelling around and heard our distress message !! What a surprise ! A big party is organized by Native Peeople to celebrate the victorty againt the terrible Monster... and some good musicians are just getting out the airplane, as well as 2 important people that maybe somebody would recognise ? And kindly, after the party, the pilots propose us to take us upto the nearest airport from where got a nice T-6 to come back....... THE END (and sorry I have been certainly too long...)
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